Kenneth Dale Waits, 88, of Oklahoma City, left his earthly body and joined his Lord and Savior Thursday, September 26th, 2019, at home surrounded by family.
Ken is survived by his loving wife of 65 years, Lila Jean Scheller, along with 3 children; Kirk and Melena Waits of Tulsa, Oklahoma; Ken and Laura Waits of Tyler, Texas; and Cliff and Kelly Underwood of Ada, Oklahoma; as well as five grandchildren, Hanna Waits, Cade Waits, Cole Waits, Emma Underwood and Cooper Underwood.
Ken was born May 13, 1931 in Frederick, Oklahoma to Raymond and Viva Waits. He learned the meaning of hard work at an early age, helping his father and older brothers on the family farms. At Frederick High, he was president of his class, played football and began dating “the prettiest girl in the school”, Lila Jean Scheller. After graduating from Oklahoma State University in 1953, Ken married his high school sweetheart and they embarked on the adventure of a lifetime, when he graduated from officers’ candidate school and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Air Force.
Ken loved to fly and made a career of the military, proudly serving our country for almost 31 years, retiring in 1984 as a colonel and Base Commander of Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City. Colonel Waits’ assignments took he, Lila and the family all over the world; by Lila’s count they moved 23 times.
Once commissioned, Ken’s initial assignment was as a pilot in the Air Force’s special atomic cloud sampling project in the Enewetak Atoll in the South Pacific, and the Nevada desert. Subsequent assignments in Spangdahlem, Germany, Langley AFB Virginia, Toul Rosieres, France and Boise, Idaho were followed by a tour in Vietnam from 1966-1967. Ken flew 215 missions in Southeast Asia and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his bravery and extraordinary achievement while on a mission over North Vietnam on February 20th, 1967. Future assignments included the Pentagon in Washington D.C., Bergstrom AFB, Texas, Ramstein AFB and Zweibrucken AFB, Germany; and Wright- Patterson, Ohio, followed by his final stop as commander of the 2954th Air Base Group at Tinker AFB.
Colonel Waits’ honors include the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal with 15 Oak Leaf Clusters, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.
Ken was a devoted husband, father and grandfather who loved to spend time with his grandchildren. “Poppy” will be sorely missed by his family.
He was preceded in death by his parents, and brothers Raymond Waits, Jr. and Robert Earl Waits.
Memorial services for Ken Waits will be held at Orr Gray Gish funeral home in Frederick, Oklahoma at 1:30 pm, Saturday, October 5th with Dr. Shane Kendrix, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Frederick officiating. Burial will take place with full USAF military honors prior to the memorial service at a 12:30 p.m. graveside service in the Frederick Memorial Cemetery. A special thank you for the loving care and support of Dr. Brian Cross and the staff at the University of Oklahoma Stephenson Cancer Center. The family also extends their gratitude to the loving nurses that cared for Ken at home.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials in Ken’s honor be made to a charity of your choice.
Orr Gray Gish Funeral Home
111 N. 11th Street
Frederick, OK 73542
"Service Beyond Expectation"